NIPSCO gets support for green energy
BY Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com November 16, 2011 9:36PM
Steve Francis makes a point while speaking before a group a the Sierra Club's Clean Energy Future Coalition launch at the Long Beach Community Center Wednesday Nov. 16, 2011. Francis is the chairman of the Sierra Club Hoosier chapter. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 18, 2011 4:56PM
Long Beach resident Joy Schmitt hadn’t come to expect much from Northern Indiana Public Service Co., so she was surprised when she heard earlier this year that the energy company was making plans to promote alternative energy.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Schmitt said. “For once I’m proud of Indiana.”
She and other residents showed their support by coming to a community event organized by the Sierra Club to announce the Clean Energy Future Coalition to support NIPSCO in its continued efforts to promote green energy.
The Sierra Club also presented 1,000 petitions from residents thanking NIPSCO for its efforts.
The event was in reaction to news by NIPSCO that it planned to start implementing net metering and a feed-in tariff program, which will allow customers who use alternative energy to send any unused electricity into the system and then receive either money or credit for it.
NIPSCO has started to implement the programs, Virgina Shannon, field operator with the Sierra Club, said, but the coalition wants to continue to provide support and encouragement to see the programs fully in the works.
“We’re working to create a broad base of public support and use that to thank them,” Shannon said.
Russ Draper, an energy consultant with Home Energy in Middlebury, spoke to the crowd about the viability of alternative energy in northern Indiana, which doesn’t have the sunny reputation of the Southwest.
Despite not having as much sun as some states, he said it was possible for Indiana to create more energy than it needs through solar power and pointed to the world’s leader in solar, Germany, which actually has one hour less of sun on average than Indiana.
Shannon said not only does the program have environmental benefits but that also economic ones by creating new jobs. Shawn Kaczmarek, a Long Beach resident and executive team leader for Save Moon Valley, said he thought LaPorte County was at the edge of a new technological bubble that could greatly improve the area’s economy and lifestyle, if only local leaders chose to take advantage.
“If they don’t grab that opportunity, it goes away,” he said.